Fighting The NAP Nativist Agenda

Once in a while, we want to affirm the values that San Francisco Forest Alliance stands for. We’re a grass-roots organization of people who love nature and the environment, pay taxes responsibly, and want access to our parks and wild places – with our families.

Citizens care about their city Parks, and want to keep healthy trees and to open access to natural areas. Citizens expect city management to act responsibly and in the public trust, for FAIR allocation of 2008 Clean & Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond funds.

SF Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) and particularly the Natural Areas Program (NAP), obsessed with Native Plants, is cutting down trees, restricting access, using more toxic herbicides than any other section of SFRPD (excluding Harding Park Golf Course), and using financial resources that could better be used for things our city’s residents really want.

OUR VIDEO

Watch our video on Youtube, (where you can also sign up for the SF Forest Alliance Youtube channel):

OUR MESSAGE TO SAN FRANCISCO AND SFRPD

What we stand for can be summarized in four key areas: Trees, Access, Toxins, Taxes.

 

Help us save the urban forests in our San Francisco Parks

Glen Canyon Park: One Year after Start of Tree Destruction

The Glen Canyon Playground and Tennis Court Project – as the city is calling this – is nearly completed. In February or March 2014 there will be great fanfare at the completion of this project.

Video update to the Glen Canyon Park tree demolition project

Is it an improvement? Well, there is a new playground at least, but it will not be the same as it was: a steep staircase to the slide and bushes that were at the top – gone. The kids loved those; they played games of imagination and adventure there. Instead of a quirky playground that used the advantages of the site, there’s a standard-issue place that could have been built anywhere.  And the wonderful climbing tree the children loved, behind the Rec Center – also gone. The new kids will not know what they missed.

The City Arborist report stated that only 1 tree was truly hazardous, yet 42 trees were destroyed. Equally troubling is the deliberate relocation of tennis courts that destroyed 11 healthy and majestic Eucalyptus guarding the Park’s entrance.

Question: Why was there no attempt to incorporate these trees into the overall design goal that could have been achieved without sacrificing space for the playground and ball field?

Answer: San Francisco taxpayers “purchased” a native plant garden as part of the project and ensured all those “poor suitability / non-native” trees were eliminated.

Functional, Beautiful Ecosystems Should Be Left Alone; the Parks need maintenance, not destruction.

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While you are on YouTube, why not Subscribe to our Channel and keep up with our latest videos by the San Francisco Forest Alliance?

YouTubeChannel-HomePage

YouTubeChannel-HomePage

Merely follow step one or two to Subscribe to our Channel:

Step 1) Do you have a YouTube account? OK then, its easy to subscribe …just click this link http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center? add_user=SFForestAlliance

Any users who are logged into YouTube already need only to click that link and then confirm the subscription and they’ll be added to our Channel.

Step 2) Not on YouTube account yet? All you need to do is watch one of our YouTube videos, click on the”Subscribe” button / link, which is directly across from the Name of our Channel: San Francisco Forest Alliance. Or, the “subscribe” button may appear below the video title.

The last step is to sign in to your Google account or register with a Gmail, YouTube or Google+ account.

Audio Talk (YouTube) Against the Needless Destruction of Urban Forests

You are invited to hear comments by Ariane Eroy, a supporter of Sutro Forest, trees, and the environment, on KPFA radio (broadcast date: 1/2/2014).

Ariane speaks in support of the effort to save the Sutro Forest and challenges East Bay residents to get UC Berkeley to scale back its destructive project tree-removal in East Bay hills, part of a huge program that threatens half a million trees.  This 2 minute, 30 second audio broadcast includes pictures of the Mt Sutro forest.

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While you are on YouTube, why not keep up with our latest videos by the San Francisco Forest Alliance.

YouTubeChannel-HomePage

 Just follow step one or two to Subscribe to our Channel:

Step 1)  Do you have a YouTube account? OK then, its easy to subscribe …just click this link  http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=SFForestAlliance

Any users who are logged into YouTube already need only to click that link and then confirm the subscription and they’ll be added to our Channel.

Step 2)  Not on YouTube account yet? All you need to do is watch one of our YouTube videos, click on the”Subscribe” button / link, which is directly across from the Name of our Channel: San Francisco Forest Alliance.   Or, the “subscribe” button may appear below the video title.

The last step is to sign in to your Google account or register with a Gmail, YouTube or Google+ account.

NAP Plan Paperwork Costs Over $2 Million – Not Including Implementation

Spraying pesticides in Glen Canyon March 2013San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Commission just voted to allocate  $237 thousand from the Open Space Contingency Reserve to hire a new consultant. Its job will be just  to respond to the approximately 450 comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP, Sin-Ramp) of the Natural Areas Program (NAP).

This will be the third consultant hired, and will bring the money spend on the Sin-Ramp – just formulating and publishing the Plan –  and the Environmental Impact Report on it to over $2 million. That is, $2 million for just the paperwork. Should the third consultant have whatever problems made the first two unsatisfactory, then of course it would mean even more money.  (The Commission seemed inclined to give them whatever they needed.)

NAP Plan Cost

(Based on information obtained from San Francisco city government)

That doesn’t include, of course, the cost of actually implementing the Sin-Ramp. Those would increase from about $1.8 million annually now to about $5.4 million annually if Sin-Ramp were implemented. Over the 20-year life of the Plan, that would mean $108 mn. And if the “Maximum Restoration” alternative were chosen, the costs would balloon to $10.8 mn per year, and over $200 million over 20 years.

Is this SF Recreation and Parks Department’s highest priority?

SNRAMP Implementation costs

Costs of implementing San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program

Glen Canyon Park: Six Months after Tree Destruction

Note: This article is re-published from SFGlenCanyon.Net

It’s been over six months since the trees were felled between Elk Rd and the Glen Canyon Rec Center.  Here’s what it looks like now.

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The destruction part took no time at all: An avenue of majestic century-old trees, a hillside habitat for birds and animals – including insect-eating bats –  a wild bee-colony,  Those were all gone in days.

The construction part is harder.

Endangered Manzanita – Reopened Comments until July 29, 2013

six-dollar franciscan manzanita

Franciscan Manzanita – Nursery specimen, six dollars

US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has reopened the comment period  for its designation of “critical habitat” for an endangered manzanita.

[You can find the Notification HERE]

This designation will likely mean significant access restrictions and possibly other unfortunate effects such as tree-removal and prescribed burns.

The new notice adds new acreage – especially around McLaren Park and Glen Canyon Park (wrongly labeled Diamond Heights) – to bring the total in Natural Areas to 203 acres (of a total of ~1100 acres of Natural Area Program land)

If you wish to comment, you can do so online HERE (look for the “comment now” button on the top right) or mail them a letter. Comments will not be anonymous. If you already sent a comment last time round, you don’t have to re-send it. It’s on record. But if you have additional thoughts, you can certainly send an additional comment.

From US FWS website:

Written Comments: You may submit written comments by one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.

(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section below for more information). [That’s at the same link.]

BACKGROUND

Some months ago, a specimen of manzanita (arctostaphylos franciscana)  – found during the Doyle Drive project in San Francisco – was declared a federal endangered species.

Though difficult to grow from seed, this manzanita is easy to clone.  You can buy plants originating from cuttings (from a different specimen of the same plant) for about $6.

The details are HERE

US Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of designating critical habitat for this plant within San Francisco.

If this manzanita, which now has the legal status of a Federally endangered species, is planted in these areas, it will get the same protection as if it occurred there naturally. This will likely mean access restrictions; it could mean the felling of trees because this species needs full sun; and potentially might even require prescribed burns (to allow its seeds to germinate).

We wrote about that HERE.

COMMENT PERIOD REOPENED

US FWS has reopened its comment period. It discovered it was inadvertently using the wrong map, which overstated all the acreages. It’s corrected the acreage in its revised notification. It is currently asking for a total of  197 acres, of which 51 are Federal, 133 are city-owned, and 13 are private.

  • More importantly, the National Parks Service has asked for a reduction in the Federal areas, to protect its restoration efforts for other Native Plants, and also to preserve its historic forests.
  • Meanwhile, SFRPD staff have proposed an additional 73 acres to be designated as critical habitat: 56 acres in McLaren Park (which was not included earlier at all); and an additional 14 acres in “Diamond Heights” (actually, Glen Canyon and the area above O’Shaughnessy Boulevard). It’s also requested the designation of 3 acres of private land in the same area.
  • If this goes through as notified, nearly a fifth of the Natural Areas (203 acres of 1100) will be designated critical habitat for this plant – even though the plant was originally found only in four locations in San Francisco.

WHERE ARE THESE AREAS?

The colored map here broadly indicates all the areas that are to be designated as critical habitat.

Franciscan Manzanita map updated July 2013In more detail, here is the revised map for Glen Canyon. The two areas called “Subunit 9A” and “subunit 9B” are newly added to the proposed designation of critical habitat.

glen canyon updated 1

These are the two maps for McLaren Park. This park was not included in the earlier designation.

mclaren 1 sm mclaren 2 sm

WHAT DOES “CRITICAL HABITAT” MEAN?

By designating “critical habitat” the USFWS says, in essence, that these areas are so important to the conservation of the species that they must not be changed by the Federal government – or by any activity it funds or authorizes.

From the USFWS notification:

Section 3 of the Act defines critical habitat as the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protection, and specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

“If the proposed rule is made final, section 7 of the Act will prohibit destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat by any activity funded, authorized, or carried out by any Federal agency. Federal agencies proposing actions affecting critical habitat must consult with us on the effects of their proposed actions, under section 7(a)(2) of the Act.”

If these “endangered” plants are introduced, we can expect that the Natural Areas Program will want to protect them. This may mean:

  • Restricting access (perhaps with fencing);
  • Cut down any trees shading the plants since they require full sun; and
  • Maybe even seek to get permission for prescribed burns, since it’s possible the Franciscan manzanita needs fire to germinate. (This is believed true of the closely-related Raven’s manzanita.)

It will also mean that the area cannot be planted with anything that clashes with the manzanita in its requirements – including large shrubs and bushes (even if native). It will probably mean more pesticide use, to keep other plants from encroaching on the area where they’re trying to grow this one.

WHAT IS THIS PLANT AND IS IT ENDANGERED?

We mentioned before that Franciscan manzanita plants, grown from cuttings of another specimen, have been available in plant nurseries for some 50 years.   This plant, the Doyle Drive manzanita, is presumed to be a different individual of the same species. If so, this is good because it would add a little genetic diversity. However, until someone does a DNA analysis, we cannot tell if it’s true.

  • It could be a nursery plant that someone introduced; the neighboring plants were non-native and very likely deliberately planted. In that case, it will be genetically identical to the others.

  • It could be a cross with another manzanita species. Manzanitas generally hybridize really easily, and some scientists think this is a cross between Franciscan manzanita and arctostaphylos uva-ursi.

It’s complicated with manzanitas. They adapt to any little change in their environment, and they are easily crossed with other manzanita species. As a result, scientists often have to re-define which are species, which are subspecies, and which are mistakenly considered a separate species when they’re not.

WHAT ARE ITS CHANCES?

There’s a closely-related  manzanita species, Raven’s manzanita, that is also as endangered. For over 30 years now – and an estimated $23 million – people have been trying to bring it back. The definition of success would be two generations of plants produced from seed (not cuttings) and some spontaneous populations in the wild. That’s not much of a target to achieve – but it isn’t happening.

So with all the time, trouble, and expenditure – what are the chances of the closely-related Franciscan manzanita succeeding?

Franciscan manzanita

Franciscan manzanita

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